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Friday, September 27, 2019

The Organization of African Unity (OAU)

For the first time in African history 32 independent African states met at Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, from May 22nd to 25th, 1963. The meeting brought together 30 heads of states and Heads of Government, the two absentees being King Hassan II of Morocco and President Grunitsky of Togo. It also brought together the blocs which had emerged among african states - the Casablanca group, the Monrovia group and the African and Malagasy Union. As result of the meeting the two blocs were to be dissolved although the third was to continue.

The most important achievement of the conference was the adoption of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U). The Charter has two important features. Firstly, it defines Africa as consisting of all the Continental African States, together with Madagascar and all the islands surrounding Africa; and secondly, it lays down the right of all Africans to control their own destiny, and recognizes their aspirations to Brotherhood in a larger unity that is above ethnic and national differences.
      The aid of the organization are simple: to promote the unity of African States; to coordinate efforts to achieve a better life for African people; to defend their sovereignty and independence; to eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; to promote international cooperation within the framework of the United Nations.
  In order to achieve these aims, the member-states agreed to harmonize their general policies in six different fields: in politics and diplomacy; in economic cooperation, including transport and communications; in education; in health and sanitization; in science and technology; in defence and security.

The Organization accomplishes its aims through four institutions which is set up, following the Addis Ababa Conference – the Assembly of Heads of States and Government; the Council of Ministers; the General Secretariat; and the Commission of Mediation, Conciliation, and Arbitration. 
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government: This is the Supreme organ of the Organization of African Unity within the provisions of the charter, it discusses matters of common interest to Africa with the purpose of coordinating general policy. It also reviews the structure, functions and activities of all the organs and any specialized agencies and committees which are created from time to time in accordance with the Charter.

  The Assembly itself consists of the Head of States or Head of Government of each member-state or his accredited representative. It meets at least once a year; or at the request of any member-state it may meet in extraordinary session, but this requires the approval of two-third of the member-states. In Assembly each member has one vote, and all resolutions are determined by two-thrid majority. Questions of procedure are determined by simple majority. Two-third of the total membership constitutes a quorum at any meeting of the Assembly.

The Council of Ministers: The second principal organ of the Organization of African Unit, consists of the foreign Minister of each member-state, or such other Minister as the state nominates. It meets at least twice a year, but like the Assembly may meet in extraordinary session if this is requested by a member-state and approved by two-thirds of the O.A.U members.
The Council is responsible to the Assembly, and it functions are;
• To prepare agenda for the conference of the Assembly
• To implement the decisions of the Assembly
• To coordinate the inter-African cooperation in accordance with the Assembly's instructions and in conformity with the provision of the Charter.
 In Council's deliberations, each member has one vote, and all resolutions are determined by simple majority. The council has the power to make it own rules of procedure and two-thirds of the total membership constitutes a quorum for any meeting.

The Secretary General: The Organization of African Unity has a permanent administrative Secretary General who is appointed by the Assembly on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers. The Charter also makes provision for one or more Assistant Secretaries General. The functions of the Secretariat are similar to those of the U.N.O.
Secretariat — That is it conducts all the correspondence and administrative work of the organization and controls it finance, in short it is like a number of Ministries combined into one. In the performance of their duties, the Secretary General and his staff are not able to seek or receive instructions from any government or any other authority external to the organization. Each member-state has undertaken to respect the exclusive character of the responsibilities vested in the Secretary General and his staff, and not to influence them in the discharge thereof. 

Member-states are pledged to settle disputes among themselves by peaceful means. To this end they decided at the Addis Ababa Conference to establish a Commission of Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration. The Charter also empowered the Assembly to set up such specialized commissions as it considers necessary. It was recommended that the following five should be established;
[1] The Economic and Social Commission
[2] The Educational and Cultural Commission
[3] The Health, Sanitation, and Nutrition Commission
[4] The Defence Commission
[5] The Scientific, Technical and Research Commission.
It was decided that each commission should consist of the Ministers of the member-states within whose portfolios these subjects lay, or such other ministers as the Governments of the memeber-states might appoint.

The Charter makes provision for a Budget, which is prepared annually by the Secretary General and approved by the Council of Ministers. Member-states contribute to the Budget in accordance with the scale of assessment of the United Nations. It was also agreed at Addis Ababa that no member-state should be assessed at an amount exceeding 20 per cent (20%) of the Annual Regular Budget of the organization. In March, 1965 the Council of Ministers, meeting in Nairobi, approved the 1965-1966 Budget which totalled more than £1,440,000. This was the first complete Budget adopted since its establishment. At the same meeting a resolution was passed calling upon the Secretary General, M. Diallo Telli, to enquire into the feasibility of building a permanent headquarters for the organization. The Council of Ministers requested the Secretariat to discuss in consultation with Ethiopia the possible acquisition of land in Addis Ababa.
   The Organization of African Unity has also set up a special budget for the work of its Liberation Committee. The latter gives aid to liberation movements in Portuguese Africa and the Republic of South Africa. In Addis Ababa it was recommended that volunteers be raised for these movements, and a coordinating Committee was set up in Da-res-Salaam for this work.

The Organization of African Unity Charter may be amended or revised if any member-state makes a written request to the Secretary General to that effect. The proposed amendment may not be submitted to the Assembly for consideration until all the member-states have been informed of it and a period of one year has elapsed. The amendment is not effective unless it is approved by at least two-thirds of all the meber-states.

There are now 38 members. Gambia was admitted as the 36 on March 9th, 1965 and since then Botswana (formerly Bechuanaland) and Lesotho (formerly Basutoland) have been admitted.

1. The Casablanca Group included Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Morocco, the United Arab Republic, and Libya 
2. The Monrovia Group consisted of Nigeria, Liberia, Tunisia, Sierra Leone, Togo and the Brazzaville Group (which included all ex-French sub-saharan states except Guinea and Mali)
3. This was originally a Union formed by the Brazzaville states, constituting a rival to the Ghana-Guinea-Mali bloc. 
4. Whether the Head of State or the Head of Government attends depends upon the Constitution of the member-states. Formerly Nigeria was represented by the Prime Minister, who was Head of Government, since Head of State (the President) was constitutional Head only. Nowadays she is represented by the Head of the Federal Military Government or his delegate. 

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